Peace camp in US unites Israeli, Palestinian teens

It’s no surprise Noa Epstein worries about the safety of her husband, a reservist in the Israeli army called to duty as war smolders in the Gaza Strip. But, still carrying memories of a transformative summer camp experience nearly two decades ago, she knows there is another side to the conflict, and she is filled with concern for the Palestinians too.

As rockets fly, troops battle and casualties mount in Gaza, teens from both sides of the border are heading to Otisfield, Maine, for Seeds of Peace, a camp now in its 22nd year of fostering dialogue among its participants. Even years later, campers like Epstein say they feel the impact of their experience gently nudging them to consider their words, to have compassion and always, always to aim for peace.

I just read this article and I must say that camps like this are an excellent idea. I would also think that other similar initiatives would be good too. Peace will never reign in the Middle East so long as hatred is king.

That said, I have said in the past that I believe the New Evangelization is essential to peace throughout the world. I definitely still believe this to be the case but I am wondering if conversion to Catholicism is absolutely necessary for peace. After all, if we can eliminate hatred and encourage empathy then wouldn’t that do a lot to bring about peace?

Don’t get me wrong, I strongly desire the conversion of all people to the Catholic Church but I thought of this because of people who would refuse to convert to Catholicism. Would it be necessary for the vast majority of people to convert for there to be peace or would simply eliminating hatred and fostering empathy be enough? What do you think?

Fresh air!
Love this news. Thank you

You’re welcome. :slight_smile: Sometimes we all need to see a bit of good news. I found this to be inspiring and I knew others would too so I decided to post it here. :slight_smile:

Graciew, I am not sure if you have heard about this gathering, so I will mention it now:

Settlers and Palestinians break their fast together

The air was cool and verging on cold as dozens of Israelis streamed into the sandy parking lot in the West Bank, gathering for afternoon and evening prayers after a long day of fasting.

At the other end of the lot, down a wide, unpaved road, Ali Abu Awwad presided over the Palestinian contingent, a small group of locals joined by members of Operation Groundswell, social activist backpackers from Canada who were spending the summer in the region. Sitting in a square of brown velvet couches, they listened to Hanan Schlesinger, a local settler who has become part of this intimate group of activists.

The two groups were present for Choose Life, the joint fast project initiated by activist Palestinians and Israelis who live in this area. Marking the 17th of Tammuz and 18th day of Ramadan, Jewish and Muslim fast days that coincided on Tuesday, they gathered, as did dozens of other groups around the world, in Evanston and Eilat, Jerusalem, Ottowa and Philadelphia.

At 8:15 pm, as night fell and the fast ended, the Israelis walked over to the farm, accompanied by a guitarist playing songs of peace and hope. Everyone mixed and mingled in the yard, filling plates with chicken, rice and salad, sitting and talking.

As the crowd thinned out, and families left, heading home to put their kids to bed, some people took out their guitars again, alternating between Hebrew and Arabic songs.

I heard about this on the radio, but sadly do not remember the program. One of the Palestinians who attended made an interesting comment. He said that sharing a social occasion with the settlers was difficult, butessential if there is to be peace for their children. Socializing with some peace activist from Tel Aviv might be easier, but it doesn’t promote the changes which are necessary.

Perhaps there is value in his perspective, but I think the sort of gathering which Holly shared with us is also important.

Nice to see Israelis and Palestinians getting along in Maine. But the article reminds me of the naive attitudes during the Cold War who thought that if only Russian kids and American kids got together peace would prevail. It’s a false moral equivalency. If the Palestinians disarmed and quit bombing Israel, Palestine would remain controlled by the Palestinians. If Israel disarmed, it would be overrun by Arabs. That is the difference. It’s not a matter of “they hate each other so we need to get them both to stop hating”. It’s a matter of one side recognizing Israel’s right to exist.


Thanks so much, Coatimundi! I did not know this story.
" Sacred moments " ,I loved that expression.They are indeed.
No wonder the family is domestic church…
These stories can’t be more beautiful. Little bit of Heaven on earth

Holly, Coatimundi,thank you and God bless you both.

What of those who don’t believe the Jews had the right to usurp people who had been living in Israel for thousands of years just because we felt bad for them?

I thought this thread was about a PEACE camp …:shrug:

It is indeed fresh air!

Amid all the mountains of hate, we have to be reminded of the Gospel…Love is stronger than hate!

If only this would be allowed to grow!

Good for these kids.

Living the words of our Holy Father.

Children can be so much more wise than adults sometimes.

Thanks for posting this. I wish my grandniece from Beit Shemesh could attend this camp. She is a sweet kid who deserves better than the hate that surrounds her, but I doubt her parents would ever wish her to see Arabs as human, much less allow her to fraternize with them.

I’m glad these kids are getting the chance to see the humanity in the other community.

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